Pretty uneventful holiday cooking, now that it's done. The strategy of trying to keep the menu simpler than usual in order to not be on my feet for hours each day worked well. Though few dishes were over the top, especially for the Christmas feast, each meal was pretty well balanced.
Bob's mother-in-law (age 80ish) and her sister draining eggnog to the last drop and spooning out the last traces of foam from their cups.
Bourbon Marmalade glaze. Traditional approach is to include pineapple in a glaze like this. No need - it adds little and mostly falls to the bottom of the roasting pan. 50/50 English marmalade and bourbon were heated, then poured over a trimmed, clove-studded ham which had been dusted with brown sugar. 30 minutes in oven, add sauce, then heat 1.5h. Pour off liquid, de-fat (depending on ham) and add a T of butter to smooth sauce.
Gazpacho pasta. Nice combination of flavors, definitely benefited from addition of sliced, grilled sausage. Recipe proportions for vegetables not great - too much onion (and I cut in half). Be sure to grill tomatos over highest heat to get some charring without overcooking them. Pureed sacue ingredients were excellent.
Steamed Cauliflower. Butter, Salt and Pepper. Nothing else. Kept florets very large, helped prevent overcooking. AWESOME. Why don't we eat Caul. more often? There's no reason.
UPDATE: Well, it's not polite to keep adding to the list of successes, but I have to mention that Alex is addicted to the roasted sweet potatoes. He had two helpings at Christmas dinner, and last night, finished off the potatoes before he touched anything else on his plate. The preparation was 3 large sweet potatoes, two of which were the ruby garnet style, chopped into 3/4 cubes. Toss in 1/4 C olive oil with cumin (about 2t,), chili powder (1t), cayenne, oregano and thyme (1/2 t each), S&P. Could season even more, but I held back a bit for the kids and glad I did. .
French onion soup. The early stages of the process were excellent, and resulted in remarkably rich, brown onions, with absolute ease. 5 pounds of sliced onion were placed in a buttered dutch oven, and roasted for 2 1/2 hours in 400 deg. Effortless. Then brown onions on stove, creating moderate frond. After deglazing 3 times with water, I added 1/2 C sherry and the aroma was killer.
However, after adding the stocks and herbs the soup finished as somewhat bland. It needed additional intensity. Also, the ratio of onions to liquid was too high, especially after large croutons began to soak up soup in the bowl. But adding more liquid would only exacerbate the flavoring problem. Since I matched the recipe precisely, I'm surprised that a Cooks Illustrated "best....ever" recipe needs more attention or adjustment.
So now for leftover pasta, leftover ham, leftover cauliflower, ........